Jonah is joined by Steve Valentine this week to discuss acting while being a magician – and the dangers of not being taken seriously, uncovering the lost history of magic, and the importance of a presentation that transcends the trick being performed.
Steve was introduced to magic thanks to the prescient powers of the gift of a magic kit from his mom, who also predicted the future careers of his siblings with her gifts to them! Steve’s life has taken a lot of twists and turns from working as a DJ in nightclubs in Yugoslavia to acting on television and in videogames to lecturing at Magic Castle and touring with the Illusionists. Steve certainly believes that nobody should ever feel tied to only being stuck doing one thing.
A Chance to Be Bad
The most surprising fact about Steve’s history is undoubtedly his start as a performing magician, if you don’t count his failed shows in his parent’s garage, was on the stage at the nightclubs we was hired to run in Yugoslavia in the 80’s. What made it so great for him was the change to be bad and fail terribly and have the chance to keep going back out and try again. The chance to find a place and go be bad, where failure was an option, was a blessing in disguise to developing his early skills as a magician.
Always an Actor
Steve has always lived in both worlds of acting and magic and one always informs the other for him. He advocates for every magician to consider acting classes, if only to help you know how to make your voice strong so your voice will survive a long run of performances. It’s all part of the same art form of entertainment.
The difficulty of not being taken seriously as an actor who also performed magic meant that for much of his early acting career magic had to be put to the sidelines, that was until a fortunate break on House which saw both of his worlds blended together again. Steve’s biggest advice for magicians who are aspiring actors is to stick it through and focus on their longevity, a lesson he learned personally after waiting three years for his first speaking role.
Steve has also been named Lecturer Magician of the Year (2013 & 2014) by the Academy of Magical Arts and recognizes that a good magical lecture is not just about the tricks but also the history, the performance, and story. Through his research he’s discovered a wonderful hidden history, of magical acts that were never recorded entirely and whose mysteries have been lost through time. By piecing together different accounts, and a little reading between the lines, he’s been able to recreate 19th century secrets and help understand more about the history of magic and it’s performances.
That passion has extended to his latest endeavor with Magic on the Go, an online resource and repository of magic history. What’s most important for Steve is to preserve the history of magic so that the incredible magic secrets of the 1900’s aren’t lost to history and create an easily accessible database for future magicians.
What do you like about modern magic? What do you not like?
The level of skill is phenomenal. A lot of that has to with video and being able to learn by seeing and not just reading. But the proliferation of exposure means that the presentation has to transcend the trick.
Take Home Point
We’re in a world that is a world of deception. But the one person who should never be deceived is the magician. We want to deceive the public, not ourselves